Sarita Simpson shares her main-floor powder room redo

The interior designer takes us inside her Shirlington townhouse and also discusses her design philosophy.

Photo by Aaron Spicer

For interior designer Sarita Simpson, the “most finished” room in her Shirlington townhouse also happens to be her favorite: her main-floor powder room. The priority redo of the now-chic, modern retreat, stemmed from her and her husband’s love for entertaining. That and, when they moved in four years ago, the dull beige had exactly zero interest.

Simpson’s vision was one of high drama—fashioned into textures and contrasts of dark and light. She wanted guests to be more than comfortable—she wanted to wow them.
“I love dark walls,” she says of the almost-black paint she chose for the powder room’s 9 1/2-foot ceiling. At that height, she says, the 25-square-foot space could feel cavernous; she wanted it to feel cozy.

“I love the way it’s come together,” says Simpson, of this spot every guest visits. “The dark, kind of moody, sexy vibe of it and the combination of textures and colors and things in there—really almost like a candy store for your eyes—there’s different things to look at.”

It’s a luxe setting, one friends liken to an elegant hotel experience. A frosted pendant illuminates the matte charcoal, square-patterned wallpaper and the lighter gray porcelain wood-look floor. A modern chrome faucet tops the stylish black vanity that stashes bathroom essentials. She did a floor-to-ceiling, marble-look, tiled feature wall that ebbs and flows like a babbling brook: “It’s got this interesting relief to it,” she says. “So it’s not flat and it’s not completely raised.”

Photos by Aaron Spicer

Design Philosophy

For Simpson, it’s all about the details. Her approach to her powder room was no different than her work on any other space. She mixed metals and finishes—a gold towel bar and chrome faucet—to add oomph. Layering is important, she says. That is: “making sure that you’ve got different elements and textures, here and there, that all come together for a cohesive overall aesthetic.”

Toughest Hurdle

Initially, Simpson had painted the walls the same dark gray as the ceiling (Sherwin-Williams’ Sealskin), but wanted to avoid the discoloration from splashing water drops around the sink. So she began an exhaustive search to track down a washable wallcovering in that shade of gray, then found herself agonizing between two frontrunners that she hung side-by-side. A good friend who shares Simpson’s taste affirmed that she should go with her gut and she chose the geometric wallpaper.

Favorite Part of the Room

The tile wall is her favorite because, “that’s what most people are just wowed by. It’s so cool. It’s just such a beautiful statement—a focal wall.” Of the complete package, she says, “I like that when people come over … that they’re impressed and that they’re having this fancy hotel experience in my humble little home.”

(August 2018)

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